chapter  2
How metaphor leads Susan Rawlings into suicide
A cognitive-linguistic analysis of Doris Lessing’s ‘To Room Nineteen’
ByJean Jacques Weber
Pages 13

In the ‘Afterword, or end-paper’ to her novel Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971/1972:251-2), which explores a man’s mental breakdown and society’s conditioned and unimaginative reaction to it, Doris Lessing observes wryly that it needs a particular training to instil in people the belief that putting a label on some feeling or thing and defining it, is equivalent to ‘understanding and experiencing it’. It is precisely the kind of training, she continues, children receive in our schools where they are taught ‘how to use labels, to choose words, to define’. This appears to be an informal way of saying that such rigid categorization imposes severe constraints on the human potential to conceive of the world in other ways.